Friends have identified the man who died after an altercation with Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) officers on a Calgary plane last week.
On Aug. 7, two CBSA officers attempted to deport Bolanle Alo from Canada. The agency said an altercation ensued on the aircraft before takeoff. Then, Alo went into medical distress and later died in hospital.
Alo, 49, sought asylum from Nigeria and came to Canada 12 years ago, according to his family’s lawyer, Elias Munshya.
The lawyer said his role is to find out what happened the moment Alo was detained.
“What the family knows is: he was in detention, he was put on a plane to be deported and there was an altercation,” Munshya said. “As a result of that, he ended up dying, and we want to know — to those people who were there — what exactly happened.”
“It’s only after they know what happened that they can think about what steps to take.”
Munshya spoke to Alo’s widow, who lives in Nigeria, on Saturday.
“She was deeply, deeply broken,” he said.
“It’s a very difficult time for the family. They are broken. They are disappointed.”
Alo also leaves behind two adult sons.
Munshya said Alo was a taxi driver in Calgary with no criminal record and was an active member of his church.
“In my interactions with him, he liked Canada,” he said. “He liked this country. He loved it. He worked extremely hard. He had fear of persecution in Nigeria.”
Munshya said he doesn’t know if Alo had any underlying medical issues.
The lawyer expects to question the CBSA as early as Monday.
The Calgary Police Service said their investigation could take six months.
Bob Webster, a pastor at the Evangel Christian Assembly, was shocked to hear of Alo’s death.
He met Alo in 2010 and described him as a person of faith who loved to sing, pitch in with church renovations and offer rides to people who couldn’t get to mass.
“He would flip through his Bible like nobody’s business,” Webster said.
“I knew him as a gentle guy, as a happy guy. Friendly, always had a smile, and also helpful. He was willing to contribute to the church.”
Webster said he didn’t expect things to turn out this way.
“Nobody can say this is a normal outcome of a guy who dreams of coming to Canada.”
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